New 3B Frazier sees potential to contend with White Sox
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) Todd Frazier had just purchased a house when he got traded to the Chicago White Sox. Two days after that, his daughter was born.
Once he caught his breath and assessed his new situation, Frazier could not help but like what he saw.
''I kind of looked online and saw a lineup of the guys we had,'' he said. ''I got pretty excited.''
The White Sox are counting on Frazier to add some pop to the middle of their lineup and solidify a longtime weakness at third base after acquiring the two-time All-Star from Cincinnati in a deal that also involved the Los Angeles Dodgers in December.
Frazier, meanwhile, is looking forward to suiting up for a team he sees as a playoff contender after the Reds finished last in the NL Central a year ago. He is also hoping to prove that his second-half struggles were little more than a fluke, a mental lapse brought on by all those losses.
''I was tired, for one,'' Frazier said Sunday. ''Everybody said your swing was different; it wasn't different at all. The Home Run Derby had nothing to do with that. I was tired. If you look at what we had going on, we weren't winning. Nobody wants to play on a losing team. Nothing against the Reds or the team I was playing on, it's not fun. When your job's not fun, sometimes it's tough to get going.''
The Reds won just 64 games, and while the White Sox didn't fare much better at 76-86, they are still in a go-for-it mode.
They see the potential for a strong rotation with Chris Sale leading the way and believe slugger Jose Abreu will have enough support if Frazier and some of the high-profile additions from a year ago deliver the way they expected.
That means Adam LaRoche rebounding from a rough season and Melky Cabrera getting off to a better start after struggling in the early going. It also means Frazier putting aside a rough second half and showing the form that made him an All-Star for the second year in a row.
For now, he is getting acclimated with the first full squad workout on Tuesday. Not one to watch much video, he will review some to familiarize himself with American League pitchers. And he won't dwell on last season.
A Jersey boy known as the ToddFather in Cincinnati, he hit .255 with 35 homers and 89 RBIs and even became the face of the Reds' franchise after winning the All-Star Home Run Derby at Great American Ball Park in July. But things didn't go so well for him the rest of the way.
Frazier batted just .220 with 10 homers and drove in 32 runs after the break.
''He brings a personality, definitely, a dynamic that's different than what we've had,'' manager Robin Ventura said. ''It's a nice addition, player wise and personality wise with him coming in here.''
The White Sox ranked 28th in the majors in runs last season, and their third basemen were 29th in batting average and last in RBIs. They have struggled to find consistency at that spot since Joe Crede last played for them in 2008.
''Even looking at our defense, it's important to have a guy who can play it on both sides of the ball,'' Ventura said. ''When you start looking at what he's done in the past couple of years, you're confident he's going to be able to come over here and do that. It's been a while since you've had a guy that you can pencil in there every day, and it doesn't make it extra special just because I played third base. It's just we need a guy to be able to do that.''
Frazier once played on a champion, helping the Toms River East from New Jersey win the 1998 Little League World Series. He had four hits, including a home run, and was the winning pitcher in the title game.
He went on to star at Rutgers, and he comes to Chicago with a reputation as a clubhouse leader.
''He's got some energy, pretty outgoing guy, a little outspoken,'' shortstop Tyler Saladino said. ''A little different. It should be fun.''